Archive for June, 2011

Portuguese Sweet Bread

4 June 11
Yeast bread dough, ready for proving

Image via Wikipedia

I first saw this stuff in the James Beard’s book Beard on Bread. Herself was making it back when. As in the old back-breaking way. When she expressed a desire to have it again I told her that I’d look into it… and update to a more bakerly approach. I don’t have any patience with that old feel your way through school of thought. Precision! That way you can bang it through with little hassle and get consistently repeatable results.

You will notice that this is a lot like kulich or brioche. In fact – most of these sweet butter and egg yeast breads look a good bit alike and are handled in similar fashion. There are, however, differences in taste and texture which make each unique and delightful.

725    g bread flour (4-3/4 cups)
230    g sugar (1 cup)
1    stick unsalted soft butter
125    g water (1/2 cup)
125    g milk (1/2 cup)
3     eggs
18    g salt (1 Tbs)
2    pkg yeast
1     egg, well-beaten, for brushing

Weigh everything except the last egg into the bowl and mix 3 minutes on 1st speed and then 3 minutes on 2nd speed. You will have a rather wet and sticky dough, but don’t worry – this is correct. Into a buttered bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap.

Bulk rise for 1 hour, then fold. Divide in half. The choice of shape is yours. The traditional loaf is the standard round loaf. If that is what you want then lube up a couple of 9” pie pans and set the rounded loaves in them. This dough is wet enough that it will spread out too far if it is not supported at first. There other way to do it is to use standard 8.5” x 4.5” x 2.5” standard loaf pans well lubed.

Whichever shape you use cover with plastic and let it rise. This is SLOW rising stuff, so don’t freak out when it doesn’t jump up like normal dough. In fact, it will benefit from a couple of hours rise, then retarding overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out the next morning and let it come up to room temp. You only want this to rise up to 75% or so of the pan height. It will really balloon out when it hits the oven.

Oven temp 350°F. Brush the tops with the last egg, well-beaten. Oven time will be 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on shape. This is not a good thump test bread, the best way to tell when it is done is a thermometer, which will be at 205°F when it is just right. The top will usually be a dark brown from the egg wash.

Dump onto a cooling rack and let it cool before cutting.

{{Herself Sez: As long as I’m posting this for Himself, I’ll add a comment or two. His version here is delicious. I do prefer the round loaf, though, and Himself will make it that way next time. If you look at the Brioche and Kuliche recipes (if not posted, then to be posted shortly), you will be able to see the similarities. But there are differences, and each of these breads tastes somewhat different from the other two, and each has a different texture. Thank you, dear, for editing this recipe so I can make it – should it become necessary.}}


A Very British Meal (and a Touch of France)

1 June 11

I can’t think of any greater British contribution to world cuisine than the famous roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. A standing rib roast was always the meal that I requested for birthday dinner when I was growing up. My Mother did it rather well.

Then the first girl that I ever really liked was half Brit, and her mother introduced me to Yorkshire pudding. Oh my, that stuff is good.

And of course, you know I have to add a bit of a French touch. The dipping juice reduction is very French.

Yes, rib roast is pretty expensive, but if you really watch your meat prices you can probably get a fairly decent buy once or twice a year. We find that a two rib roast will yield several meals and some nice sandwiches.

bone-in prime rib
cloves garlic
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
red wine
beef stock
chopped fresh thyme leaves

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. Maybe an hour depending on the size. 30 minutes is about right for a two rib roast.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Garlic the roast, you know the drill. Make small slits and plunk a slice of garlic in all over the roast. Rub all over with a mixture of coarse salt and coarse pepper. Set it on a rack in a pan, bones down and fat up. (You do know that you need a bit of fat for basting and flavor, don’t you?) You can lube the rack with non-stick spray if you like, but don’t lube the pan. If it worries you then you can put in a layer of aluminum foil. I can’t tell you how long to cook it. About 15 to 18 minutes a pound is what is usually quoted for bone-in and 350°F cooking temp. That ain’t the way to go. Put a thermometer in the meat. Thermometers of the electronic oven type are pretty cheap anymore, and your cooking consistency will improve. What you want is medium rare, or 135°F at the center. Even if you are one of the unwashed heathens that wants done shoe leather, don’t. The flavor is at peak at medium rare. Reheat your slices if you must. But you should really try it the right way first. Tent the roast with foil while you do everything else. The rest will do it good.

If you are going to do Yorkshire pudding you will need a couple of tablespoons of the pan drippings. Be sure to get out what you need and get the puddings going into the oven at this point.

Now here comes the French part. Put the pan over a burner or two on your stove and add some wine. I can’t tell you how much. I can tell you that a 2 rib roast is about 1 cup of red wine. Reduce it over high heat, stirring often and mixing up any pan goodies. Add twice as much beef stock as the wine, 2 cups for a two rib roast. You will notice that the wine/stock ratio is 1/2 and everything else in proportion. Keep reducing and stirring until it is reduced by nearly half. Taste, salt, pepper as necessary. Be careful not to over salt things. Keep it a little lighter than you would normally like, the meat already has salt and pepper on it. We like some thyme in ours. You’d need a light tablespoon full of fresh chopped thyme or about half that of dried for our hypothetical two rib roast.

Slice the roast fairly thin and serve with the juice. Au jus just means “with juice.”

Now the Yorkshire pudding part; which you actually start making as soon as you put the roast in.

Yorkshire Pudding

150 g all-purpose flour (1 cup)
4 g kosher salt (1/2 tsp)
230 g milk (1 cup)
25 g melted unsalted butter
2 eggs
roast drippings

A bit of discussion: According to the aforementioned first girlfriend’s Brit mother it may not be possible to make a true Yorkshire pudding with anything other than true British flour. I have pretty good results with King Arthur all-purpose, but I won’t swear that it is authentic Yorkshire.

Further discussion: The true and original is blended by hand and sat under the roast and cooked with meat juice dripping into it. Not the way it is usually done nowadays, even in England. There are two ways that it is done nowadays, single dish where you get one big pudding. The multiple version is done in muffin tins or something similar so that you get many individual servings. That is how I prefer it.

A note on proportions: This will make about a dozen individual puddings. If you need to double it, add an extra egg.

Dump everything into a good mixer and blend it 30 seconds low speed, 90 seconds on the highest speed you can do without sloshing over. This is probably about speed 6 on a Kitchenaid. This should be nice and smooth and about the consistency of heavy cream. Let it sit, covered, for about an hour.

When you take your roast out raise the oven temp to 450°F.

For a single put a couple of tablespoons of pan drippings into a 9×12 ovenproof dish. Heat the dish in to oven for about 10 minutes. Then pour the batter into the pan, bake for about 15 minutes at 450°F, then reduce the setting to 350°F for another 15 minutes or so.

For the individual, or popover version put about 3/4 teaspoon of drippings in the bottom of each cup. Pop the muffin tin into the oven for about 3 minutes. Then pour batter into the pan, about 1/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes at 450°F and then reduce the temperature to 350°F for another 10 minutes or so.

Keep an eye on things, you want a really puffed up, golden brown creation.

As a point of information: anytime you have an oven temperature reduced partway through the cooking, usually for baked goods, you are trying to mimic the action of an old-fashion masonry oven. This was called a falling oven, and it is one of the things that really expensive baker’s ovens try to imitate.

I should also mention that Yorkshire pudding will not keep. In fact, it begins to deteriorate as soon as it comes out of the oven. So serve it immediately. If you are having some other courses ahead, make sure you time it so the puddings are eaten as soon as they come out.

{{Herself Sez: OMG! Yorkshires get my “inner Labrador” in a frenzy! Himself made the mistake of making 5 the other night. We each ate one. He was going to throw out the rest. I “rescued” them from a fate worse than death – I ATE THEM!! Just YUMMM!}}

%d bloggers like this: